Three Films by D.W. Griffith

The Fugitive (1910)


“The Fugitive” is the story of two young men both named John. One is a Confederate soldier, the other Union. Both are preparing to leave home and go to war. The movie’s theme is the pain war causes to mothers and loved ones no matter what side they are on. Union John shoots and kills Rebel John in battle and after a chase ends up hiding in the home of the mother of the man, he just killed.  Not knowing this is the man who killed her John she nurses him back to health. Later on, she learns the truth and almost sends him out of the house to what would have most certainly been his death before the hands of the Confederates. However, the mother does not want this boy’s mother to experience the tragedy and pain she has had to endure so she continues to conceal him until the coast is clear for him to leave. The Union soldier eventually returns back home to his mother safely. The film holds your interest and is notable for the recurring “brother vs. brother” theme that shows up in some of Griffith’s other works, however, this is not one of  his best.  





The Girl and Her Trust (1912)


Made in 1912 The Girl and Her Trust is a good “action” film from D.W. Griffith. The story concerns Grace (Dorothy Bernard) a telegraph operator who is also in charge of the money. This in itself is surprising for a woman to have this kind of responsibility during this period.  A payroll of $2000 is put in her trust. Two railroad tramps attempt to break into the office and steal the money. But Grace in no damsel in distress and takes her  job very seriously locking the inner door to the office. She even puts a bullet in the keyhole and using a scissors somehow, and unbelievably, manages to make it go off scaring the two tramps! She then sends a telegraph message asking for help. Still the two men manage to get the strongbox and load it on to a railroad handcar. But Grace isn’t finished yet. She chases after them and jumps onto the handcar attempting to fight the two men. They however, over power her. One of the men, after she’s thrown down  is actually punching her. The telegraph message sent earlier worked and help is on the way. The chase between the railroad train and the handcar is well done with Griffith using parallel editing to go back and forth between the train and the handcar. In the end the two tramps are caught and Grace in saved.

Griffith was known for his use of parallel editing but there are mistakes, specifically the train that sometime seems to be coming from both directions in different shots and not consisting going say right to left. On the positive side Grace is a strong female character which shows that not all women at the time were portrayed as helpless victims.   





A Beast at Bay (1912)


Mary Pickford stars in this Griffith short from 1912, which concerns a young woman who feels her boyfriend is a coward. In a parallel, story a convict has escaped from prison. On the lam he steals a guard s clothes and gun. Eventually, Mary and the convict meet and it’s up to the boyfriend to save her. A nice little film but nothing special.


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